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    Fit-again Coles reveals injury struggles

    2019-02-22 10:21

    Wellington - All Blacks hooker Dane Coles revealed his struggles during his long injury absence on Friday as he prepared to make his first start for the Hurricanes in 18 months.

    Coles said being out of the team and spending long hours alone in the gym had made for a tough year as he recovered from rupturing knee ligaments in November 2017.

    The 32-year-old, who has 60 All Blacks caps, will now hope to stay injury-free as the clock ticks down to the Rugby World Cup in Japan, which starts in September. 

    "Last year was long - you're on the team but you're not contributing, you're in the gym by yourself. It does take its toll," Coles told media in New Zealand, ahead of Saturday's Super Rugby game against the Crusaders.

    "It definitely felt like a really long year."

    Coles, who will captain the Hurricanes, hasn't started a Super Rugby game since the Wellington side's semi-final defeat to the Lions in July 2017. He injured himself in an international against France.

    "It (a comeback) probably did seem a bit far away last year. I had to pinch myself even last week, being amongst the boys and putting that jersey on," he said.

    "All the stuff I went through in the last couple of years, it makes it all worth the effort to finally get that number two on my back and put that shirt on again.

    "I'm very happy. I've got a job to do now. Hopefully I can go out and lead the boys and set an example tomorrow night."

    Coles said his immediate priority was to resume playing regularly as selection looms for the Rugby Championship and the World Cup, where New Zealand are the two-time defending champions.

    "I just want to play a lot of footy, week in, week out for the Hurricanes. That's my only goal for the moment," he said.

    "If I can do that it (All Blacks selection) will take care of itself and hopefully the selectors will see that and give me another opportunity for the All Blacks. 

    "I'm just enjoying my time ... I'm going to cherish every moment that I get to play with my team-mates."

    Teams:

    Crusaders

    15 David Havili, 14 Manasa Mataele, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 7 Matt Todd (captain), 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Makalio, 1 Joe Moody

    Substitutes: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Harry Allan, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Tom Sanders, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Braydon Ennor

    Hurricanes

    15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Vince Aso, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Fletcher Smith, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Liam Mitchell, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Chris Eves

    Substitutes: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Xavier Numia, 18 Ben May, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Sam Henwood, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23 Ngani Laumape

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    Friday, 22 March 2019
    • Blues v Highlanders, Eden Park 08:35
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